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When I have to remember my dad my mind stops at the local bus station on a hot humid night in my hometown. I remember my dad getting on a bus and setting off for the Capital of Colombia. He was leaving us, for good.
I was there with my grandmother (his mother) Romelia, hoping he wouldn´t leave without me. Squeezing my hands and face against a huge window glass that was keeping me from going with him.
He didn´t turn around to look at me and say goodbye. He didn´t sit next to the window so he could gesticulate an “I love you” while the bus drove away. He didn´t wave his hand to let me know that he felt me in his heart. He just left and didn´t look back.
It was like I was part of that deep sorrow that was forcing him to leave mom and his children. I felt that way, even though I was just nine years old, I felt like it was all my fault. If I had tried harder to be what he wanted me to be like, maybe he wouldn´t be leaving. If I wasn´t the way I am maybe he would have loved me enough to take me with him.
Only if I wasn´t this thing he so much hates. All I knew was that my heart was breaking into pieces and it hurt. I was in so much pain I got sick later that night and mom had to take me to the hospital in the middle of the night, with my 3-year-old sister in her arms and a whole 10 hours work shift ahead of her.
I got obsessed. I would hear his voice calling me.
One night, I remember I was on the balcony with my mom and my aunt Gloria and I heard his voice calling my name and I just got so excited I forgot he wasn´t there. I ran to find where he was calling me from and while I was running through the house to meet his voice, I remembered he wasn´t there and stopped in the middle of the hallway.
And then, I remembered… something…
“What took you so long you piece of shit!?,” I tried to explain to my father why I took so much time to bring him lunch from my house to his workplace. These kids that were always bullying me tried to steal his lunch on my way there, and eventhough he saw my bleedind knees, he didn´t care.
“Come here you faggot!,” He grabbed my ear and pulled me to the back of the store he was working in at that time. He pushed me and made my face hit a wall and then pulled his belt out and when he was ready to hit me with all his anger he realized that his belt was made of soft material and that won´t hurt enough.
So all he found to beat me with were his feet and then my 9 year old body was bitten with the strenght of a mature strong muscular man. Ribs broke, lips bled, pride hurt. My body agonized.
Dad´s co-workers laughed. They came to the back of the store and grabbed me. They tied me to a chair and left me there for the rest of the day. At dawn, when they were closing the store, they decided to have a party. Closed the “negocio” grabbed bottles of liquor “aguardiente” and got drunk all of them.
I was there crying and asking dad to send me home to mom. “You stay there you faggot. Why are you crying huh? You piece of shit. Your puta (whore) mommy is not here to help you, you fucking faggot,” He said all the nasty adjectives he could to call and humilliate me in front of his “buddies” and after a few minutes laughing at me he continued: “You know what? We need music. Come here and sing for us,” He said to his friends. “The little queer can sing you know boys! This little queer can sing,”
And while giving me a dirty, hateful look, he untied me and put me in the midle of the room and forced me to sing. Tears were running down my face but my voice made them mute. They all listened. They all liked it.
One of them started to smile at me with compassion. I remember that look he gave me because I connected with someone who felt sorry for me but he was too drunk to do something about the whole thing.
They kept drinking…they drank more… they got really, really drunk, wasted and then they grabbed me again. The five of them. They all grabbed me. They were like wolves feeding on a lamb. They were beasts destroying the prey. They were mad men teaching a little boy that life is what it is, nothing better than that.
I can still feel the panic I felt then. I feel the heartbreak and cry everytime. I remember the tears in my eyes, blurring my sight at that moment when I stopped in the hallway while trying to find my dad.
I felt so alone that night in that house. I reached out for mom to console me but she was crying just by looking at me and my aunt gave me the “don´t bother her now” look. So I just went to the back patio and stayed there, sitting on the stairs with my dog Ringo and my little sister, who came later, next to me. I had a cast vest holding my ribs and my arm. Bruises all over, my face was a testimony of a horrific thing that a little kid should never live.
There was nothing else but sorrow in that house. Pure and thick sorrow after what happened and that feeling never went away. We, my sister Erika and I, grew up to be sad, but I was never problematic, Erika was.
All these years I asked my self, and my mom sometimes, why he hated me so much and the answer is not difficult to find. I wasn´t the type of son an ignorant “macho” would like to have. He was disappointed.
No legal action was taken. At that time child abuse was not something authorities took seriously. Parents could do whatever they wanted to their children and there was nothing children or anyone else could do but keep it to themselves, keep it silenced. Hushed.
I was, let´s say, frail. a Mama´s boy. Cute porcelain face with big eyes and carnation lips (a very adult description I know), but that´s what I was. A good piece of nature but not to be too manly, nor to be even remotely a macho man. I was the “Frail Porcelain Kid”. That is what my grandmother, Romelia, used to call me while giving me a hateful look.
“This boy is the reason my son left you Edith… This little porcelain kid destroyed everything. Don´t you blame my boy for trying and not being able to educate these kids and you,” Mom replied; “Leave this house and never come back. We don´t need you here!,” and the old lady had something else to say, of course; “We will see if you won´t need us,” Then that old woman left to never came back. Never. We never called that familiy either, ever again. That link broke that day…
Nothing was harder than helping my body heal and go back to normal, after being attacked by a group of drunken, grown up, men out of their heads and conscience; after being attacked by darkness and evil; after having my innocence ripped away.
I was a little boy, 9 years old and my eyes saw things they should never have. My body felt things it should never have. I swear, I still can smell them, the musk, the sweat, their sweaty oily skins, the breath, the heat, the dirt, the pain.
The loneliness when I grabbed my Dad’s hand and looked into his eyes while they were breaking my bones, ripping my flesh and breaking my heart with their steamy man machines. I pleaded to my dad, with my eyes, to make all of that stop.
“I want my mommy!,” I screamed but none of them wanted to hear me. They just went deep into insanity and savagery. Pain and shame. Pain and shame but, above all, PAIN.
My inmature mind couldn’t find the explanations for those actions. My inmature small mind just thought that I had it coming because of being what I was. What I am. Bad boys deserve bad things happen to them….a punishement. That is what I always felt from then until I became an adult.
I remember when the first one penetrated my little body with all his brutality. I remember how hard I screamed and then, I remember another scream. A woman´s scream. My mom´s scream.
With my blurry eyes, I saw that someone else entered that warehouse. My heart knew it was Mom. Yes, it was her voice. Her scream. Her anguish, for her son. It was my Mom! Everything is over now! I knew the nightmare was over right there.
I don’t remember anything else. It was like my mind let go when I knew that Mom was there and everything was going to be just fine. Doctors were protective but neither wise nor heroic enough to save me from this evil. No. They’d fixed the outside. They were not to fix the inside. Time went by, scars remained and I still bleed inside with my broken soul and heart. I am all broken.
That wasn’t the first time that Little Porcelain Kid had to endure something like that. Oh no. What happened in the back of that store, in the warehouse, was the last thing Mom was willing to take from my drunken father.
“It’s okay. Do you remember where you live son?,” I was crying. I didn’t really pay attention to what those people, who found me, were asking me. Big, round, brown eyes full of tears and fear. Barefoot. Mud up to my knees. A bleeding cut on my calf. Crying. Anguished. Crying as a six year old would, one that felt very lost.
I, the little porcelain kid never felt abandoned, in my mind I convinced my self that I just got lost . On top of that I was scared to death because dad was going to be furious. I moved from the spot where he had left me. I should not have moved from there. Dad is going to hit me for not doing what he told me to do.
Don’t move from wherever dad places you to wait for him to return. That was a lesson I learned the hard way.
“Is ok kid. Do you remember where you live?,”
Morning Local News
Cali, June 1982
El País Daily
A seven year old boy, lost and suffering from
hypothermia, was found today wandering
around the southern swamp.
When asked what he was doing there
the child answered, he was waiting
for his daddy to get him.
If you recognize him from this picture,
please call the local newspaper’s
Social Services department.
There is a family out there who are worried
and want for him to return home.
That was something close to the article the local news paper posted after some folks found me walking around the swamp, exhausted, filthy and barefoot. I was relieved they had found me, but also very worried about my Dad’s retaliation.
My mother wanted me home, for my father nothing was more distant from what he really wanted. My sister was born three days before this happened. Before dad decided to leave me to my luck in that swamp. Before he made the decision to get rid of his shame.
To be continued…